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Boogie Brozoski (18 points) leads Lutheran girls to Federation 'AA' title

Long Island Lutheran players celebrates a 63-57 win

Long Island Lutheran players celebrates a 63-57 win against Ossining during the girls Class AA Federation Tournament championship basketball game in Albany Saturday, March 22, 2014. Credit: Hans Pennink

ALBANY - Erin Storck, when you launched that three-pointer from the right corner Saturday night, how confident were you that it was good?

"I wasn't thinking at all," the junior said.

That's when teammate Katie Lavelle came up with another assist: "It doesn't matter," she said, "because we all knew it was going down."

It went down, and the raucous crowd at the Times Union Center got up for Long Island Lutheran.

Storck drilled the three, off a pass from Lavelle out of traffic along the baseline, and gave the Crusaders a two-point lead with 1:17 left as Lutheran beat Ossining, 63-57, in the state Federation girls basketball Class AA final.

Boogie Brozoski's four free throws in the final seconds created the margin and, as she strode to the line, gesturing to the fans to make some noise, they readily obliged.

Why not shout it? Lutheran had just captured the program's first "AA" championship. The Crusaders (23-2) moved up to Class AA this season after winning the Federation "A" title last year.

"No words can explain this feeling right now," said Storck, who had 10 points. "We did it and it's amazing."

Brozoski had 18 points and four assists and was named tournament MVP, and Taylor Byrne had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Lutheran. Nani Redford added eight points and four steals.

Abby Squirrell's three-pointer had given Ossining a 57-55 lead with 2:59 remaining. Storck's free throw pulled Lutheran within a point, preceding her heroic jumper.

"It's like telepathy with us," Lavelle said of Storck. "Once I drew the defense in, I knew Erin would be out there and she'd make it."

Another three-pointer of note was Byrne's in the third quarter. Lutheran's 6-2 center drained one from almost the same spot Storck did, beating the shot clock and pushing the Crusaders' lead to 47-39. "Taylor probably hadn't hit a three since sixth grade," LuHi coach Rich Slater joked. And Brozoski called it "an energy shot that got us all feeling good."

Those good vibes didn't last long, as Ossining came back in the fourth, and the teams exchanged the lead four times.

"We never worry," Brozoski said. "We've been in too many big games, tough situations, to ever start panicking or losing confidence."

Well, swagger certainly isn't an issue. After the Crusaders posed for photos with their awards and plaques, the players formed a dance circle. The girls jumped in, one at a time, and busted moves as the group sang, "We are the Crusaders, and we can't be beat."

In the crucial games this season, that holds true. Lutheran had beaten Ossining in a tournament in December. But the Pride, Slater said, are never easy to defeat. They proved that Friday night, rallying from down 18 to beat St. Anthony's in the semifinals.

Jalay Knowles, Madison Strippoli and Shadeen Samuels each scored 12 points for Ossining (25-3).

The Crusaders took a 32-24 lead into the half and had control, but that, of course, was temporary. And all of it set the stage for a certain shooting guard.

So, Erin Storck, having had some time to process the moment, how confident were you about the shot?

"On a scale of 1-10," she said, grinning, "about 100."

Storck delivered.

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